Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

What I love about Christmas in this country is that it is celebrated twice every year: on the 25th of December and on the 6th of January (mostly by the Armenians). Sometimes it's our diversity that tears us apart, but it also brings so much richness to our local culture. The Christmas spirit is felt well into January here, and the Christmas lights stay up for two weeks longer than most parts of the world.

I've noticed decorations getting more and more creative and extravagant by the year. There was a contest in my building to see which department would put up the best decorations. I thought I'd do my bit and wish everyone a Merry Christmas the way I know best.

I started with these pretty snowflakes made from tracing paper to give that crystal effect. They looked great against the rain-washed window panes.

Here's an excellent tutorial by Sara Adams.

This Christmas tree angel by David Brill doesn't have to go on top of a tree; you can easily decorate your nativity with it, like the person who got this little guy did.

A lovely fir tree

The fir tree looked beautiful on its own, and any kind of decoration would have ruined it. This Christmas tree variation by Jo Nakashima looked a bit more "Christmas-y". I used a different paper pattern for each segment to make it look ornamented. The fir tree it still my favorite though, and it made a very nice gift indeed.

Although Jo says "NO glue!"
you might still want to cheat to make it a bit more sturdy.

Now we're home for the holidays, so I attempted to make a little nativity. I based my first attempt on this nativity scene, but it did not have the success I had hoped for. No one I showed it to could guess what it was. It seemed very obvious to me, given the time of year, the figure leaning religiously over the infant, etc. With a better setting and perhaps better lighting, I thought it was pretty spot on. However, my sister (my best/worst critic) thought that St. Joseph was a rocket, Baby Jesus was a table and Mary was a crooked wizard hat. 

So I had to go back and rethink the whole setup. I adapted this Joseph from the first (later, the wind blew him off the balcony), and I converted the first Mary to Chiyo Araki's Mary (I hate to waste pretty paper. Um... I mean, any paper at all! Save a tree!)

I'm pretty happy with how these guys turned out. They are all based on this Saint Joseph model. I made my own variations so their robes, hats and faces would be different. I got this lovely patterned origami paper for Christmas, and I thought it would be perfect for giving the Three Kings' lavish robes. Sadly, these Wisemen were too big for my nativity scene.

And this camel was about as small as Baby Jesus. So in the end, I was not able to put it all together to give me a proper Nativity. Maybe for Armenian Christmas.

And just for kicks, if you're sneaky, here is some quick mistletoe to catch someone under, made from two pairs of holly leaves.


I never understood the rules for mistletoe. Do you have to kiss anyone if they happen to be standing underneath it? What if it's your great-aunt or your annoying cousin?

And finally, I made this wreath from 14 pairs of holly leaves. Here is a very simple diagram for making the holly leaves. In retrospect, I am not a huge fan of the ribbon.

Merry Christmas to everyone, 
whenever, and however you celebrate it!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cranes Again

I know what you're thinking, "Cranes again? Can't she do anything else?" But when you've folded as many cranes as I have, everywhere and out of everything, you are bound to come up with some...variations. I have raided my Box O'Cranes to bring you these interesting birds and my very own line of Mutant Cranes! (Don't forget to click on "READ MORE".)

Greyback Crane

From left to right: Color-Splash Crane, 24/7 Crane & Comic-Strip Crane

Coffee-Stain Cranes (I had some Post-its that I spilled coffee on.
Waste not, want not)

Kinder Crane

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Origami Second Lesson

Origami is not just a pastime for me; it has taught me many things besides making cool shapes with paper. Being a disciple of Fold and Learn, I firmly believe that lessons can be drawn from just about anything that happens in everyday life, so why not something as beautiful and complex as origami?

I tried to show the kids this in our second lesson. I hope the message went through. This time we learned about team work. A cliché, I know, but for kids, it's very important. It teaches them not to be selfish and self-centered, to be more tolerant and accepting. So enough with the moralizing. Here's what we did.

This eight-pointed modular ninja star is a very repetitive model. It requires 8 identical units and some assembly. Each of us made two units and put them all together. This is a fun model because it opens into a disc-shape.

The model open

The model closed

Check out my tutorial on how to make this model. Some of my friends thought it looks like Xena's chakram when it is open.

We also made these simple foxes, and the kids had fun drawing funny faces on them. Mine is the less interesting one on the far right. They got pretty creative.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Unexpected Blog Post

Please excuse the lameness of the title. I just couldn't resist.

The Hobbit was released in theaters this week, and I have yet to see it. I have been waiting for this movie all year, and it's finally here! Pete, please don't disappoint me.
In honor of the occasion, I made some origami.

“By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous, and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his woolly toes (neatly brushed) – Gandalf came by.”

Here are some Goblins to start us off on our adventure.

And their trusty mounts. I think it's very interesting how wolves are evil in Tolkien and in C. S. Lewis as well.

Sting is glowing blue to signal danger.

And of course, no adventure would be complete without a giant spider.

Fortunately, the Eagles will always come to the rescue.

And then behold Smaug, the fiery worm guarding his hoard.

But where is Gandalf? This wizard always has a funny way of popping up when you least expect.

Initially, I wanted to make the awesome origami wizard by Satoshi Kamiya, but to my shame, I had to give up halfway through. Wrong paper, terrible tutorial, and, well, turns out, I am diagram-illiterate. I have the worst time reading those things. I might try again some day. I got the crease pattern alright, but then the assembly was something else entirely. By the end of my two-hour attempt, I was so tired and disheartened, I had trouble folding even this, like, 5-step wizard. I have brought dishonor upon myself.

And although these rings do not figure in The Hobbit, I thought they deserved a mention. Three Rings for the Elven-kings under sky: Vilya (the Sapphire/Blue Ring of Air),  Nenya (the Red Ring of Fire), and Galadriel's Narya (the White Ring of Water).

These ring designs are very basic, but fun nevertheless. 

If all goes well, I am going to see the movie tomorrow! There was a special screening on Tuesday for a charity called Himaya against child abuse here in Beirut, but my friends couldn't make it. They used the age-old excuse: I have to work (Pfft.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Origami First Lesson

One lady in our department who was passing by to say hello stopped to look at the paper flowers and other models that I leave strewn around the office. She liked them so much that she asked me if I would give her daughter origami lessons at their home once a month. This was the last thing I would have expected to happen, but it has turned out to be a fascinating experience.

My first lesson, I started out with one student and ended up with three, eight years old, sitting at the table, folding little paper tadpoles. 

Here are a couple of the models we made together.

We should really feel privileged if we are ever lucky enough to be invited into a child's magical world. These models are simple, but there is no reason they should not be exciting. The frog's lips move and make it look like it's croaking. The kids laughed endlessly at the funny expression on their frog's face. One of my students very eloquently said that he wanted to make his frog's eyes look "glazed over", as seen above. The box is an equally exciting toy; you can stow all your little bits and pieces and secrets in it. 
There is really nothing better or more rewarding than seeing a child excited about something. It reminds us adults (and I use the term begrudgingly in reference to myself) to appreciate the little things which could make us very happy if we just stopped to notice them.

After that first lesson, I am now introduced as "the origami teacher". That sounds pretty legit. I can't wait for my next lesson. I think we are ready to move on to slightly more difficult models.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hogwarts Project - Part I: The Four Houses

There's a whole generation of us who grew up with Harry Potter. I count myself among those whose life was touched from the very first time I met Harry by the magic Jo created with her enchanted quill. I remember waiting impatiently for the next book or movie to come out, escaping by burying myself in one of the books when the Muggle world got to be intolerable, making my own wand and taking it with me to *cough* high *cough* school, having Harry Potter themed birthday parties (yeah, ok, it was my 18th, I am not ashamed)... It was one hell of an adventure.

To cut the sentimental hogwash short, this is my little thank you to Harry for standing by me since we were both 11 years old.

Drum roll please, for the heralds of the Four Houses...

The Badger and the Eagle are from happypuppytruffles' Harry Potter series; the Snake is from her Chinese Zodiac series. And of course, no project would be complete without a Robert Lang. The lion is my second, and slightly improved, take on this model, now in blazing crimson.

Ravenclaw's Eagle instructions

Hufflepuff's Badger instructions

Slytherin's Snake instructions

Gryffindor's Lion based on Robert Lang's lion

I also made Ron's Howler from a traditional kissing lips model. The lips move and look like they are kissing, or in this case, giving Ron a tongue-lashing for flying the old Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow.

Initially, I wanted to crown this project with one of Kade Chan's kickass Golden Snitch models. However, just to tease me, he did not publish any CPs or instructions for them. I had to settle for what my sister thought was a winged box.

Golden Snitch(?) instructions

I am planning a much longer Part II to this project, hopefully to come soon... if I can get all the models I am planning to make right.

All names, creatures and things © J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Compulsive Folder

I am sometimes alarmed by the amount of paper I fold without even realizing it. Sometimes when I am sitting at work completely stressed out about a deadline or something of the sort, I look down at the desk in front of me and find it strewn with little tiny cranes.

They said it would rain today so I put on my rain jacket in the morning. Later, as I was leaving work, it felt a bit nippy outside, so I slipped my hands into my pockets to warm them.
In my left pocket, I felt two little paper cranes. I don't remember the last time I wore that jacket.

That was a new low.

And the box keeps getting fuller...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Independence Day Lebanon 2012

Happy Independence Day, you little mess of a country. We should remember today that our little dot on the map does not get the love it deserves. Despite all that goes on every day to disrupt its peace, it remains standing, though on shaky ground.

Although many people are unfortunately not in the mood to celebrate this year, in honor of the 69th anniversary of Lebanon's Independence and of our beloved national emblem, the Lebanese cedar (cedrus libani, or the Cedar of God in the Bible), I made this little origami.

The cedar is based on Jo Nakashima's Christmas Tree variation. The red box and lid stand for the two red stripes on our flag, and the white background stands for the white stripe in the middle. Instructions for making the box can be found here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mutant Cranes

Everyone needs a coffee break at work from time to time to relieve some of the stress of deadlines, little daily frustrations of the workplace and people wanting things from you in general.
My supervisor and I have recently taken to folding origami during our coffee breaks. I am infinitely lucky that my hobby-verging-on-obsession is tolerated where I work. My supervisor is wonderful, and always wants to learn new models with me. She also recently started her own blog called Fold and Learn where she sometimes uses origami with her students to teach them writing.

While she was practicing her cranes, she accidentally came up with a few...variations. There were clearly flaws in her technique, and she probably missed/added a few steps. But these little guys came out so cute! I took it upon myself to study these mutant cranes and try to figure out how she got such strange results. My aim was to be able to reproduce these little oddities exactly, without unfolding or damaging them.

To quote the creator of these blundering birds, "sometimes an accident can create something new and interesting."

Introducing the Mutant Cranes!

From left to right: Proud Crane (her favorite), Hunchback Crane and Box Crane

Here are my reproductions of these amazing cranes.

Box Crane

Hunchback Crane

This was pretty easy to figure out.

Proud Crane

This was the closest I could get it to looking like the original.
Mine is not so proud. I guess accidents only happen once.

Check out a cool post on Fold and Learn: Mistakes: A Recipe for Creativity.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mechanical Chameleon

A big big thank you to the wonderful people over at MechanoChameleon for the new Paper Moon banner!

To show my appreciation for their continuous help and support, -- and because someone over there is celebrating a birthday today! -- a modest offering. Introducing Paper Moon's very own version of the MechanoChameleon.


This little guy is the first thing I make that is not entirely paper. I felt like I was cheating somehow, but it was a lot of fun regardless. I got to experiment with a lot of different materials and styles.